TO maximise the quality of our lives as we age, medical practitioners can offer some helpful advice. EXERCISE A pristine spine requires a strong heart and lungs to pump out fresh blood to keep your organs moving. At least 30 minutes per day of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days per week is advised. The inclusion of weight-bearing exercise, along with calcium and vitamin D supplementation, is a critical component to combat the development of bone loss and/or osteoporosis, which can weaken the spine and put you at risk for a broken hip or a spinal fracture. In addition to weight-bearing aerobic exercise, emphasising core strengthening during exercise (working the abdominal and back muscles) helps to improve posture and take load off of the spine. BODY WEIGHT It’s not just about weight loss, but also maintenance of a reasonable weight. Also, remember it’s not just exercise that keeps your weight under control but also what you eat and how much you eat. The combination of a strong, exercised spine and a reduced weight are great ways to protect your back. TOBACCO Smoking is not only harmful to your lungs and heart, but can also speed up the development of osteoporosis and make your bones more brittle. In addition, tobacco smoke has been associated with loss of the normal water in the spine’s discs that can lead to the development of degenerative spinal disc disease and loss of the normal shock-absorbing properties of the spine. This in turn can lead to early spinal arthritis and loss of mobility. DIABETESAs a by-product of the obesity problem, most people are diabetic or at the pre-diabetic stage. Diabetes not only causes harm to the heart, nerves, brain and eyes but it has been associated with spinal arthritis (spondylosis) and back pain. The loss of mobility seen in a patient with a painful spine can set up a vicious cycle of reduced activity and increasing weight gain, which can send blood sugar soaring. You may discuss the above with your chiropractor in order to optimise the quality of life that you enjoy. For further information, Contact Doctor Natasha Singh on 032 551 1376.